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Sao Tome and Principe: Floods and landslides - Operations Update no. 1, DREF N° MDRST001

Santo Tomé y Príncipe
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GLIDE n° FL-2021-000213-STP

Summary of major revisions made to the Emergency Plan of Action:

The present DREF initially approved for a period of 03 months was to end on the 30 April 2022. The update below is to inform of the progress of the almost completed activities and make an extension following the assessments completed on 22 March 2022 by the National Society (NS) after the heavy rains that hit the country on 4 March. Three districts were affected with consequent damage in Neves, the capital of Lemba district. This resurgence of flooding accompanied by heavy mud and stone flows led to the revision of the DREF response as follows:

  • Extension of the operation timeframe by two additional months to carry out the new activities, for a total duration of five months

  • Increase of the budget by CHF 99,693, that is a total DREF allocation of 164,881

  • Increase in the number of the target. The total number of beneficiaries increased from 572 people (150 households) to 6,000 people (1,500 households) and the city of Neves was added as the main target.

  • These 6,000 people, about 10% of the population of the districts, will all be covered by the 6-week extension of door-to-door and mass sensitization following the high need for WASH prevention. This will be supported by radio outreach to cover Me-Zochi and Lemba. Enhanced radio sensitization with messages broadcasted over two months.

  • In these 1,500 households, 300 additional families in the most vulnerable areas of Neves (Lemba) will receive food kits, soap and WASH materials for two months just as the 150 households initially targeted, that is 1,200 people living on the banks of the Provaz River and the Ribeira Funda, including the Agua Toma district, Benga and its surroundings in the town of Neves.

  • In terms of needs, the initial response focused on food assistance, awareness raising, hygiene and access to safe water. This update will focus on the provision of safe drinking water, as the water system has been completely damaged, and people in need of safe drinking water. This will also include the purchase and distribution of aquatabs to 450 of the most vulnerable families initially identified and those affected by the second wave.

Following the need to accompany the Red Cross of Sao Tome and Principe, a Surge WASH officer will be deployed for two months to support the NS and a follow-up mission is planned by the IFRC Delegation.


Background of the disaster

The 2021 rainfall in Sao Tome and Principe peaked between 28 and 29 December 2021, causing the country's rivers to rise. In less than 24 hours, the rains that hit the archipelago caused chaos in the capital and in several other parts of the country, especially in areas where streams flow and near rivers. The storm that hit the archipelago, including the island of Sao Tome, on 28 December 2021, killed two people and at least six went missing in the community of Ponte Samu. On 30 December 2021, the government of São Tome declared a state of disaster due to the damage caused and appealed for international assistance at a meeting attended by international actors present in the country and ambassadors.

While the NS was still responding to the December floods, heavy rains hit the whole country, causing another wave of flooding on 4 March 2022, resulting in floods of varying severity in the northern and north-western districts of Lemba,
Me-Zochi and Agua Grande.

After the first information received from volunteers in the different districts, it appears that Lemba district was the most affected while the level of water and damage recorded and reported by the population in Agua Grande are less important. The Lemba and Me-Zochi districts, already exposed by the December 2021 floods, have been heavily impacted. Lemba in particular is twice more vulnerable due to its socio-economic situation compared to the other affected districts. The most important damage of this second wave of floods was recorded in Lemba, mainly in the capital Neves. The Sao Tome and Principe Red Cross (CVSTP) recorded injured, and numerous damages and material losses. The damages recorded include the destruction of two major bridges, houses, public and private buildings and schools flooded by water and important muddy and rocky flows of stones coming from the deviation of the river that crosses the capital of the district of Lemba Neves".

In Neves, the health centre, the private residence, the police command, the secondary school, the beer factory and the main and secondary streets of the district capital were totally flooded with water and a lot of mud. The road that gave access to the district of Lembá via bridges was cut off due to the total destruction by water of the bridge at Riveira Funda and the significant deterioration of the bridge over the river Provaz (Neves).

This rapid assessment of the situation was only possible once an access road created by the government was declared passable. The government was able, with the support of the local committee in Neves, to create an alternative road to allow movement of people and service goods to Neves. This allowed the CVSTP to start assessments, but difficult road access postponed the completion of this rapid assessment until 22 March 2022 to document this request. (See Lemba district in yellow on the map, including Neves).